As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced voters would be able to get their ‘parchi’ from the ECP directly by just an SMS, it also had to deal with the recovery of fake ballots in Chakdara in Lower Dir district. While those responsible for the fake ballots made the pitiful excuse that the ballots were part of a voter "education exercise", the number, about 90,000, means that a very elaborate farce would have been underway. The provision of forged ballots on such a large scale may help explain how the election would be thrown towards one candidate or another, not just in Lower Dir, but in other constituencies as well. The ECP must be very careful, particularly in this election, to ensure that there are no doubts thrown upon the fairness of the election. This has been particularly true when the ECP has taken upon itself a task electronically which has traditionally been performed by the parties manually. Voters can now get information about their voting serial number and their polling station from the ECP, according to ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, who announced this while talking to media persons on Sunday, when he also disclosed that the printing of 150 million ballot papers had been completed, and that transportation was being conducted under Army supervision.
He also said that it was not possible for the ECP to provide transport facility to 80.61 million voters. It may be recalled that the ECP had forbidden candidates from providing voters transport, another old tradition with parties, or rather candidates. Mr Khan said that the parties could continue to distribute the traditional paper chits. If they do so, it will be more to get in touch with the voter than to perform an essential service.
Perhaps most importantly, Mr Khan’s media interaction showed that the ECP, which has established 69,875 polling stations, was getting up to conduct the polls, and that there should be no further doubts about their being held on time. The conduct of a fair poll is essential, and the ECP must ensue this, especially as it will increasingly come under focus in the coming days, which are the last of the campaign. This is normally a tense time, even without a campaign against the polls, which are under fire from the militants, who attached the rally of an independent candidate in Sibi, killing three. Such attacks will only be effectively answered if the elections are held on time. That will only be possible if the law enforcing agencies exercise the utmost vigilance.